The highest number of new Covid-19 cases has been recorded in one 24-hour period by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.
Some 273 new infections were notified on Friday bringing the total number in the region over 10,000.
The new cases were detected from 7,410 tests, representing a 3.7% positivity rate.
The latest cases are part of a 1,236 increase in the last seven days, bringing the incidence rate to 65.7 per 100,000 of the region’s population.
Testing has been significantly stepped up in the last two months.
However in early July when there were three to four new cases a day, less than 0.5% of tests were positive
In the last 10 days, testing has remained steady at around 20/1000 people per week, while cases have almost doubled.
The current estimate of the R-number is around 1.5.
Most of the new cases in the last seven days are in Belfast (350), followed by Londonderry and Strabane (242) and Newry, Mourne and Down (160)
Meanwhile the department’s dashboard indicated on Friday that 46 patients were being treated in hospital, with five in intensive care units.
There are currently 27 coronavirus outbreaks in care homes.
No further deaths were recorded by the department on Friday, with the toll in the region remaining at 577.
I am advised that further interventions may be required to prevent an exponential rise in the virusRobin Swann
Stormont health minister Robin Swann told the Assembly in an urgent written statement there has been a “marked increase” in cases as well as a “progressive rise in Covid hospital patients”.
“The Executive continues to prioritise public health, while also recognising the importance of keeping society and the economy as open as possible,” he said.
“As health minister, I recognise the consequences for population health and wellbeing of economic stagnation.”
Mr Swann has not ruled out introducing further measures to try to stem the increase in cases of the virus.
“As we look ahead, we have to plan for every eventuality,” he said.
“There is early evidence to suggest that the household restrictions applied on a postcode basis, and now Northern Ireland wide, may have had some impact on reducing transmission.
“My department and the Executive will continue to monitor the data on prevalence and be guided by expert medical and scientific advice.
“I am advised that further interventions may be required to prevent an exponential rise in the virus.
“In the coming days and weeks, the Executive will continue to assess different potential options for returning incidence to low levels.”
The NI Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride and the Acting Chief Medical Officer for RoI Dr Ronan Glynn have met to review the ongoing #COVID19 pandemic.— Department of Health (@healthdpt) September 25, 2020
They appealed to the public across the island to continue to follow public health advice.
Earlier the chief medical officers from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland made a joint statement to advise against all but necessary travel across the border.
There has been an increase in case numbers in Co Donegal with tighter coronavirus restrictions decided by the Irish Government to be imposed at midnight to remain in place until October 16.
“Given the current number of new cases in Donegal and neighbouring areas we would appeal to everyone to avoid all but necessary travel across the border,” Dr Michael McBride and Dr Ronan Glynn said.
“It is also recommended that employers on both sides of the border make every effort to facilitate employees to work from home in so far as is possible.”
Meanwhile, the Police Service of Northern Ireland have said that for the first time in almost three weeks, no coronavirus fines or warnings were issued in the last 24 hours in south Belfast.
The Holyland and Stranmillis areas have seen a number of house parties in recent weeks despite public health advice against multiple households meeting up indoors as students returned for the new university term.